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Shake it Off

People who move into leadership positions immediately become targets for critics. Whether it be increased power, higher salary, or more freedom, people become jealous of the rewards.

As educational leaders, we are taught to be humble, modest, and unassuming.

We are taught to be servant leaders.

So when others take shots at the merits of our leadership and complain about the benefits of our positions, we bite our tongues and absorb the criticism.

At some point, all the criticism adds up and we buy in to the negativity.

Maybe I am doing something wrong?

Should I feel bad about the perks of my position?

Do I really deserve what I am given?

This article is meant to debunk these feelings.

Don’t feel bad about being a school leader.


The higher leaders climb, the more sacrifices they make to arrive.

With few exceptions, every person who has achieved success in life has put in work to get there. Many people dedicate several years and pay thousands of dollars to receive the formal training needed to advance their career. Consider the financial and time investments school administrators make to be eligible for hire:

Administrators complete at least two years of extra school.

Superintendents complete at least four years of extra school.

PhDs and EdDs complete at least six years of extra school.

Speaking of PhDs, when I was nearing completion of my doctorate a colleague asked, “Are you really going to make people call you Dr. Smith?”

While family members had previously asked this question in jest, this individual posed the question in such a way that suggested by adopting the "Dr." prefix I was self-absorbed.

For the next several weeks, I thought to myself, “Am I full of myself? Do I really need to have others call me Dr. Smith?”

In those insecure moments I forgot the effort that went into earning the degree:

Waking early to write before my “day job” started as opposed to more sleep.

Attending weekend class as opposed to tailgating with family at football games.

Completing research at the coffee shop as opposed to nights out with friends.

Spending thousands of dollars on tuition as opposed to buying a new car.

Burdened with “I should be doing homework” syndrome as opposed to living life.

Reminding myself of these sacrifices allowed me to move past the comment and helped me accept the rewards that accompanied the degree, including the new title.


At some point, every leader is criticized about the power, salary, or freedom of their position. When this happens, they should remind themselves of the following:

“You can complain all you want about the perks but the path to school leadership is not easy. You can whine about the advantages but you must understand the personal sacrifices it took to get to this point. It has taken many years of hard work to earn this position.”

When the trolls emerge, don't forget the blood, sweat, and tears it took to get where you are.



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